Paralympic gold medallist left on 'hands and knees' by Covid

Eve McCrystal and Katie-George Dunlevy were honoured for their achievements at the Tokyo Paralympics with an RTÉ Sports Team of the Year award in December.
Paralympic gold medallist left on 'hands and knees' by Covid

Louise Walsh

A paralympic gold medallist has said she was left her on her "hands and knees" by Covid-19 and was unable to return to full training for weeks.

Tandem para-cycling champions Eve McCrystal and Katie-George Dunlevy took home two gold and one silver medal from the Tokyo Paralympics last year.

The duo were honoured for their achievements with an RTÉ Sports Team of the Year award in December, having seen off competition from a number of nominees, including the Meath Ladies Footballers, the Leinster Rugby team and Olympic rowing gold medal winners, Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy.

However, McCrystal has revealed the virus stopped her in her tracks, despite her high fitness levels.

"I was got by Covid, like so many other people, in November, so I'm still trying to get back. It's quite difficult, actually. It set me back, but I'm finally getting there," she told LMFM's Late Lunch programme.

"I had to come back little by little and that's OK. Covid-19 put me on my hands and knees, I'm going to be honest with you. I'm as fit as a fiddle, but I wasn't well for ten days.

It's about seven weeks since I had it and I'm really only getting right now.

"I followed the protocol from the Institute of Sport in returning to training after Covid and I ticked all the right boxes and didn't do anything risky.

"It's about seven weeks since I had it and I'm really only getting right now. I was OK but when I got on the bike to try and exercise, I saw a big change.

"I just had to be patient and give it time, so I trained consistently in little bits over the Christmas just to keep me going," she said.

"Covid-19 wasn't nice and it's not nice for people and other people got it ten times worse than I did, but it still wasn't an easy time for me," McCrystal added.

Katie-George Dunlevy (right) and pilot Eve McCrystal (left) after winning gold in the B Time Trial Final at the Tokyo Paralympics. Photo: Paralympics Ireland Twitter

Speaking about winning the RTÉ Sports Team of the Year with Dunlevy, McCrystal said it was unexpected as they had "resigned themselves not to win".

"We thought we were not going to win against the Olympic rowers or big GAA teams.

"We have given our hearts, our souls, our everything to our sport and then when it goes right on the day and you come home with gold, it's just a sense of relief and accomplishment and thank God that it went right.

"The media really got behind us this time and everyone was able to see our joy," she said.

"But when we got home, life hadn't changed. I was making lunch for school the following morning," she laughed.

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